When “Grey’s Anatomy” debuted on ABC as a midseason replacement, March 27, 2005, it was still more than three years before Barack Obama was elected President, but creator Shonda Rimes’ medical drama, set in the fictional Grace Hospital in Seattle anticipated that with its “color-blind” casting. The 43-year-old Chicago native was named by Time magazine as one of the “100 people who help shape the world in 2007.
The show, which aired its 10th season premiere on Sept. 26, will mark its 200th episode next Thursday, Oct. 10. The first 199 are all available exclusively on Xfinitytv.com’s Streampix, where it consistently tops the list of most viewed.
Ellen Pompeo’s title character Dr. Meredith Grey is the series’ protagonist, originally accepted to the hospital’s residency program to work under Chandra Wilson’s Dr. Miranda Bailey, along with Sandra Oh’s no-nonsense Dr. Cristina Yang, T.R. Knight’s insecure Dr. George O’Malley, Katherine Heigl’s effervescent Dr. Izzie Stevens and Justin Chambers’ hardcore Dr. Alex Karev. The surgical wing is primarily supervised by James Pickens Jr.’s Dr. Richard Webber, who is eventually replaced by heartthrob Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. Derek Shepherd, in the “McDreamy” role that made him a star. One of the show’s groundbreaking narratives was dramatizing the interracial relationship between Isaiah Washington’s Dr. Preston Burke and Sandra Oh’s Dr. Yang.
“Grey’s Anatomy” has been nominated for 38 Primetime Emmy Awards in all categories, winning four, including Katherine Heigl, who went home with one for Outstanding Supporting Actress—Drama Series in 2007 and Loretta Devine, for Outstanding Guest Actress—Drama Series in 2011, as well as honors in casting and make-up. Sandra Oh received five nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress—Drama Series, while Chandra Wilson collected four and T.R. Knight one for Outstanding Supporting Actor. Other who received nods in the Outstanding Guest Performance category include Kyle Chandler, Kate Burton, Christina Ricci, Elizabeth Reaser, Diahann Carroll and Sharon Lawrence.
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Each episode typically began with a Meredith Grey voiceover which foreshadowed its theme, while every season mirrored the physicians’ academic year, charting their development into seasoned doctors. The season finales always involve some life-changing tragedy, either a death or the departure of a main character. The show was less about medical procedurals and more about the doctors’ personal lives, which made it a high-class soap opera, filled with conflicts between their professions and their relationships.
While it might be hard to catch up to a series that has had many twists and turns during its now decade-long run, here’s a list of memorable episodes from the first 10 seasons.
“A Hard Day’s Night” (Season 1 Episode 1): Meredith meets surgeon Derek Shepherd during a one-night stand only to discover the morning after he’s her boss. Miranda Bailey, dubbed “the Nazi,” meets the interns. We learn that Meredith’s mother is acclaimed surgeon Ellis Grey (Kate Burton), now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, who had an affair with Chief of Surgery Richard Webber when her daughter was six years old. [Watch here]
“It’s the End of the World” (Season 2, Episode 16): The highest-rated “Grey’s Anatomy” episode ever aired after the Super Bowl, was the first of a two-part story that earned nominations for Shonda Rhimes for Outstanding Writing and “Friday Night Lights” star Kyle Chandler. The episode begins with Izzie, Cristina, Meredith and George in the shower together, which turns out to be the latter’s dream. Meredith refuses to return to work, feeling she will die, then must treat a trauma victim brought in by a paramedic with her hand still stuck inside him to stop the bleeding, along with a piece of unexploded ammunition. Chandler’s bomb squad leader Dylan Young wants to clear the ORs of all unnecessary personnel. R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, whose band inspires the title, collaborates with Coldplay’s Chris Martin on a cover of Joseph Arthur’s “In the Sun,” which closes out the episode. [Watch here]
“Didn’t We Almost Have It All?” (Season 3, Episode 25): Cristina refuses to leave the hospital on her wedding day, prompting Burke to realize she will never love him, and decides to split. Richard offers Derek the chance to succeed him as Chief of Surgery, but he refuses. Loretta Devine’s Adele suffers a miscarriage, which Richard discovers would have been his son. [Watch here]
“Love/Addiction” (Season 4, Episode 2): Veteran Diahann Carroll received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress—Drama for her portrayal of Jane Burke, who plays Derek’s mother and makes life difficult for Cristina when she sets to retrieve her son’s things. Meredith intrigues Derek with an “S&M” approach to their relationship, though it gives him the wrong idea about where things are headed. [Watch here]
“No Good at Saying Sorry (One More Chance)” (Season 5, Episode 21): Sharon Lawrence earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress as Izzie’s mother, who comes to visit in the wake of her daughter’s brain tumor. Sara Ramirez’ Callie deals with the loss of an inheritance after her father discovers she’s a bisexual. [Watch here]
“Death and All His Friends” (Season 6, Episode 24): In a gripping two-part season finale that earned the show’s best ratings of the year, Cristina must save Derek, who has been shot by a gunman who invades the hospital. Callie and Jessica Capshaw’s attending pediatric surgeon Arizona decide to have a baby together. Thinking Derek’s going to die, Meredith suffers a miscarriage. [Watch here]
“Song Beneath the Song” (Season 7, Episode 18): With music so much a part of the “Grey’s Anatomy” DNA, this groundbreaking installment features Callie, after getting into a car accident with Arizona, envisioning her colleagues in a sequence that includes the cast performing Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars,” The Fray’ “How to Save a Life” and Brandi Carlile’s “The Story,” as Kate Walsh makes a guest appearance, returning to the cast as Addison Montgomery. [Watch here]
“If/Then” (Season 8, Episode 13): Another of Rimes’ high concept episodes, in the show’s version of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Meredith imagines a world in which her mother doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, leading her into a happier version of herself, causing the individuals at Seattle Grace to have very different futures. The episode ends with a glimpse of when Derek and Meredith first met. [Watch here]
“Perfect Storm” (Season 9, Episode 24): During a power blackout, Meredith requires a C-section for the delivery of her baby, which is performed in the dark by Dr. Bailey. Cristina operates on Richard’s patient by listening to his heart. The ER staff rushes to help the passengers of a burning bus. Cristina breaks up with Kevin McKidd’s Chief or Surgery Owen Hunt. Richard is electrocuted from water in the basement. [Watch here]
“Seal Our Fate” (Season 10, Episode 1): In the tenth season opener, a mudslide sends victims into the ER as Meredith faces some tough choices in motherhood, Callie deals with Arizona’s cheating and Richard hangs on for dear life after his brush with death. [Watch here]